A Friend Who Makes Rivalry Irrelevant

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14 (or Genesis 15:1–6; 21:1–3); Psalm 128; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40 Let the peace of Christ rule… Colossians 3:15 Preachers today won’t touch the text: “Wives, be subordinate to your husbands…” That is because the current cultural tension over male-female dominance issues blocks out Paul’s focus on Jesus. Notice his words “as the Lord... let the peace of Christ rule… in one body… in the name of… in the Lord.” Paul’s focus is on what Jesus is doing with, in, and through us. In Ephesians 5:2 Paul tells everyone, “Be subject to one another—mutually—out of reverence for Christ.” Then he tells wives to be subject to their husban

A Friend For All Seasons

The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas 1John 2:12-17; Psalm 96; Luke 2:36-40 Jesus is a “Savior for all seasons” of Christian life: Childhood: “I write to you, children, because you know the Father.” Because Jesus died to make God “our Father in heaven” we grew up as children secure in the knowledge of God as a loving Father who would protect us, provide for us, and make us happy for all eternity (Matthew 6:19-32; John 1:1-18; 3:1-16; 14:1-21). Youth: “I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the Evil One.” As young adults facing temptations, we had Jesus to rely on: his word, his sacraments, his unconditional forgiveness

A Friend Who Makes Love Happen

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas 1John 2:3-11; Psalm 96; Luke 2:22-35 Sing to the LORD a new song.… Tell his glory…. Psalm 96:1... What is the new song? What is God’s glory? It is the song of Jesus. Jesus came to cast new light on earth: to reveal that God loves all of us, and that all of us can love one another—as Jesus does. Jesus reveals the glory of God loving all in all. In heaven, “We will be like him in glory, because we will see him as he is”—and love as he does (1John 3:2). Seeing and being go together. So do living and loving. We know we have passed from death to life because we love one another (1John 3:14). We don’t really know Jesus until we experience what it is to be l

A Friend Who Upgrades Me

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs 1John 1:5 to 2:22; Psalm 124; Matthew 2:13-18 If we acknowledge our sins, he… will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing 1John 1:9. Who really knows my sins? Not just my acts of sin, but the deep sinfulness they come out of: the false views of myself and others? The persistent desires I can’t get rid of? The things in me that make me beg, “A clean heart create in me, O God!” My best friends don’t know these things. I barely do myself. But Jesus does. And still accepts me. Even loves me—more than I love myself. He can do that because he sees all I am and can be. He sees more good in me right now than I see in myself. And he wants to bring

A Friend I Really Know

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and evangelist 1John 1:1-4 Psalm 97; John 20:1-8 You do know him and have seen him. John 14:7 John wrote, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you” (1John 1:3) Have I actually “seen and heard” Jesus Christ? Can I tell others about him? We mustn’t underestimate the gift of faith. It isn’t just believing. It is seeing. Faith is the gift of knowing Jesus Christ. This isn’t just intellectual knowledge. This is mystical knowledge—the truest, most certain knowledge there is. It is a sharing in God’s own knowledge of himself. Faith is seeing by the divine light of God. It is an ongoing mystical experience. To be experience, it must be conscious. To be conscio

A Friend Who Needs Me

Feast of St. Stephen, first Christian martyr Acts 6:8-10. 7:54-59; Psalm 31; Matthew 10:17-22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22 Would I want a friend who makes me unacceptable to other people? Put it another way: Would I want to be chosen as a friend by someone because he knew I would stand by him when he needed it? Especially is that someone was Jesus Christ? I wouldn’t dare to volunteer for that. Who am I that Jesus—God himself, Savior of the world—would even think of me? Much less need me. Or want me. What have I got to offer Jesus Christ? Nothing. Except loyalty. Someone who won’t turn away when being his friend isn’

Jesus says, “Run!”

Matthew tells us that after his temptations in the desert, “when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee” (Matthew 4:12). It was time for Jesus to start revealing himself as Messiah. In Matthew’s Gospel the temptations are followed by a further revelation of Jesus’s identity as announced by the angel and revealed by the visit of the Magi (Matthew 1:1 to 2:12). And he starts by running away! Matthew tells us that right after coming out of the desert Jesus “withdrew to Galilee.” This was to fulfill Isaiah's prophecy: Land of Zebulun and of Naphtali along the sea beyond the Jordan, heathen Galilee: a people living in darkness has seen a great light. On those who inhabit

If You Love Anything, Look Out!

As “Master of the Way,” Jesus teaches us above all how to love. The greatest temptation against love, however, is love itself. Once people have begun to love in any measure—love the world, love other people, love God—the love they have can be used as a lever to pry them off of their adherence to love that is authentic, total and pure. The third temptation in the desert is at one and the same time the most straightforward and the most deceitful of all the temptations of Jesus. And no one is subject to it in its full force and subtlety except those who have learned to love. Christ's response to this temptation teaches us how to love God with an undivided heart. Anything else is idolatry. The d

Don’t Trust In God

The devil couldn’t convince Jesus to make the goal of his mission something people accepted. So he tempted him to make the means for achieving it something they expected. He challenged him to establish, before he ever started, that God was going to help him—and on Jesus’s terms. This is the temptation against divine hope—hope that is worthy of the reality of God. The devil takes Jesus to the top of the Temple, and invites him to throw himself down into the courtyard below, in the midst of all the people. After all, Jesus risks nothing. If he really is the Son of God, the Father will keep him from harm. He has to. And that will prove to Jesus and everybody else that Jesus really is the Messia

Cardinal Bernie Law—A Call To Consistency

It would be simply false—though partly true—to say Bernie Law (aka Cardinal Bernard Law), who was guilty of allowing child-abuse in the Boston diocese, died December 20, 2017. And whether we do or do not say this spells the difference between belief and unbelief. I got the news of Bernie’s death late last night from a lawyer friend who bonded with the then “Father” Law while working with the federal government during the violent days of the human rights conflict in Mississippi. He told me the funeral would be as soon as possible, in order to forestall hostile demonstrations by the victims of child abuse. Although I abhor child abuse as one of the worst possible sins, I realized that any anim

Jesus Didn’t Come To Feed The Hungry

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus’s temptations in the desert follow immediately upon his baptism in the Jordan. That is logical. Jesus has just heard the Father's voice say, “This is my beloved Son.” We can understand why he needed to go apart and pray! He went out into the desert to wrestle with the truth of his identity and of his mission. We must remember that Jesus in his human nature, in his human consciousness, only had access to his divine knowledge as God in the same way we do: by faith. Although he knew he was the Messiah (his mother told him!), it must have been hard for him to grasp just what that meant—just as it is hard for us to grasp what it means to be the Body of Christ and truly d

God is a Bother

My cousin Louis had a drinking buddy—a non-believer—who used to comment on how religious Louis was. “Why do you keep saying I'm so religious?” my cousin asked; “I do everything you do.” “I know,” his friend replied, “but it bothers you!” If it bothers us when we sin, we know we have accepted God as real. That is an experience of grace! Most of us assume that an experience of God is an experience of something outside of us. And it can be that. Moses experienced God speaking from the burning bush. Paul heard Jesus speaking to him on the road to Damascus. But for most of us, the experience of God is an experience of ourselves acting in such a way that we know it is God acting with us, in us, an

Confession Is A Profession

Matthew reports that those who converted in response to the preaching of John the Baptizer “were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Matthew 3:6). Confession of sins is a characteristic Christian conversion. We should not interpret this confession as some kind of psychological groveling in guilt or wallowing in self-accusation. The confession of sins appropriate to Christian conversion is in reality a profession of ideals. We make explicit what we reject as sin in order to make clear what we accept as the authentic norm of our behavior. This profession is a profession of faith. Christian conversion is not just from the bad to the good. It is from the good to the Godl

Conversion Can’t Make Sense

Acceptance of Jesus and his Gospel, like everything else that is human, is a live and growing thing. And like all live things, it begins small. Christian conversion is a gradual process, precisely because it is never-ending. We can accept in one act of choice to live the infinite life of God, but it takes a lifetime of choices to grow into it. It is like walking on water: we do it step-by-step. The conversion that John the Baptizer called for was not a Christian conversion. He said: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). The respo

Repentance Isn’t Christian

Matthew (3:1) announces the call to conversion, “In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent (metanoieite), for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” “Repentance” does not come close to translating metanoia. What the word calls for is a complete change of mind—of attitudes, values, and behavior—determined by the acceptance of a new goal in life. It is a change of direction; an act of interior conversion which must be embodied in external actions to be complete. When we accept Jesus, the new goal that calls for a change of direction is “the kingdom of heaven.” Those listening to John did not have a clear idea of what that entailed. We know that the

Challenge: Don’t Trust Conversion

After presenting the mission of Jesus and the conflict it causes, Matthew takes up the call to conversion. What does it really mean to “accept Jesus”? We hear all sorts of conversion stories. Some strike us as sincere and solid; others as emotional and questionably motivated. Many, perhaps most conversions are not from no religion to religion, or from one religion to another, but within the same church, from one level of understanding and engagement to another, more enlightened and more deeply personal. Frequently we hear people say, “I’ve been a Christian all my life, but it was always just routine observance. Now I know what it is to deal personally with God.” Is it something missing in ou

Loser Takes All

News flash: Loser Takes All Matthew began his Gospel by telling us the mission of Jesus was to do five things. As “Son of David” he offers us fulfillment. As “Son of God” he makes us divine. As “Jesus” he “takes away” our sins and makes us a “new creation” as his body on earth. As “Emmanuel—God with us,” he continues to be God’s human presence among us until the end of time. And as “Universal Lord,” he came to gather the whole human race together into one under his headship. Next he warned us that the mission of Jesus arouses conflict. Encounter with Jesus calls us into the triple crisis of faith, hope, and love. Now he tells us that Jesus triumphs. The way Jesus wins, however, is by losing.

There Is No Discount Jesus

News flash: There Is No Discount Jesus Whatever we think of Matthew’s Gospel, we have to admit he doesn’t sugarcoat the truth. In his second chapter he tells what might be the most shocking story in the Bible. Because Joseph and Mary brought Jesus—the Savior of the world—to live in Bethlehem, every little boy in that town under two years old was massacred. Suppose you had been the rabbi in that town. You had invited everyone to welcome this new couple into the community. Then one night Joseph wakes you up and tells you he and Mary are leaving, because Herod is sending soldiers to kill the child. You pray with him, and go back to sleep. The next morning you wake to screams all around you. Mot

Jesus Calls Us To Give Up Hope!

News flash: Jesus Calls Us To Give Up Hope! Matthew tells us Mary and Joseph were required to believe Jesus was the Savior of the world while they themselves had to save him from Herod’s soldiers by fleeing into Egypt in the middle of the night! If they had any hope God was going to protect them by a legion of angels, they lost it right quick. The only help they got from an angel was a warning to Joseph: “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt… Herod is searching for the child, to destroy him.” Jesus calls us to trust in God, but to give up any expectation that he is going to help us in the way we expect. This calls us into a crisis of hope. Jesus doesn’t want us to put our

Jesus Is Bad News!

News flash: Jesus Is Bad News! As soon as Matthew finishes presenting the mission of Jesus, he tells us it arouses conflict, opposition. Jesus is not good news to everyone. And he might be bad news to all of us in the measure that we don’t want to be called into “crisis.” A crisis is a turning point. After sickness reaches a crisis, we either get better or worse. When anything comes to a crisis, the one thing we are sure of is that after the crisis has passed, things won’t be the same. And encounter with Jesus Christ calls all of us into crisis. We can see that as good news or bad news, depending on how we feel about making decisions. If we understand our humanity, and accept it, we know tha

© 2014 - 2018  by Immersed in Christ. All rights preserved.

Immersed in Christ is a 501 (c) (3) Charitable Organization.

  • facebook-square
  • Blogger Square